DJ Khaled: A Bigger Win

“All we do is win” is the newest addition to Khaled’s growing catalogue of catchphrases. To Khaled, it’s an assertion of his music’s consistent presence on the charts, the radio, the blogs, and most importantly (to him)—the streets. Just 10 minutes into a conversation with this new-school hip-hop mogul, and you start to understand why his music is everywhere. Like Billy Mays, DJ Khaled is a pitchman. But instead of OxiClean, the Miami-based radio personality sells music. And his ascendancy into the executive offices at Def Jam—Khaled is the current president of Def Jam South—proves he’s great at what he does, and will continue to be around to please his fans…and haunt the haters. 

His new album, “Victory” set to drop on March 2nd, follows what’s become a familiar Khaled formula---a compilation of braggadocio-filled tracks and posse cuts featuring multiple heavyweights in the game. It may seem repetitive to some, but Khaled considers himself a supplier to the streets’ demand: “When you hear my music you feel this passion and that’s what the people want to hear.”

So without further ado, let’s find out about DJ Khaled’s new album, the reasoning behind his catchphrases, his thoughts on the deceased (Michael Jackson and Roc Raida), and most importantly his love of “muuuuu-sick.” To set things off, tell me about “All I Do Is Win.”

DJ Khaled: I call this record a gift from God. The hook is so monstrous it’s just appropriate of what I’m promoting in “Victory.” And this is the first time I ever worked with Snoop. “We the west” connects with We The Best. That was just meant to be. And then Ross he damaged the track. He beat the track up! You feel me? I also heard “Put Your Hands Up.”

DJ Khaled: I don’t know if you realized, but “Put Your Hands Up” is something that’s never done before. Jeezy, Plies and Ross on one record? That’s like “I’m So Hood” part 9,000! I’m just letting you know, I’m not playing! Yes, you and your heavyweights from the South. 

DJ Khaled: I come through with heavyweights from the North too. The Nas record with 40 bars! Not 16 bars, but 40 bars! And John Legend sings the hook. I got music, man. I always wanted to know this. How are you able to get all these big-time artists into your projects?

DJ Khaled: Because I make great music, I’m passionate, and I’m aware. And all these artists I have on my album, they know me personally. They know I’m going to win, they know I’m going to deliver, and they know I’m going to put it out there in the streets. So you consistently keep in touch with these artists.

DJ Khaled: Absolutely! And don’t forget I’m also president of Def Jam South. I’m a Hip-Hop mogul. My job is to be in the heart of music at all times. Can you explain how you’re a Hip-Hop mogul at Def Jam?

DJ Khaled: We’re working on the new Ross album right now. It’s called Teflon Don. I’m the A&R, and I’m the co-executive. But it’s not even about that. It’s about making great music. And I’m working on Jeezy’s new album called “Thug Motivation 103.” We got Ludacris coming out with “Battle of The Sexes,” and Juelz Santana is coming. 2010, Def Jam takeover, baby! Are you…

DJ Khaled: Kanye West coming too! How are you involved in these albums?

DJ Khaled: I mean musically if I hear it, I deliver a hit. Def Jam is a team. It’s everybody from the marketing department to the executive department to all the VPs. We all come together to make sure our artists win. If you don’t mind can you expand on what is your role?

DJ Khaled: My role as president of Def Jam South is bringing in hits, and finding new artists. I’m the executive! I’m sure you know what an executive is. I just wanted to clarify.

DJ Khaled: Like breaking hits, bringing hits, and developing artists. It’s called maintaining our superstars and makes them number ones. Its called going in, you know that. Speaking of new artists, you brought out Ace Hood. After two albums with lukewarm responses do you still think he’s going to blow? 

DJ Khaled: I mean, Ace Hood is still 21 years old. The hoes, I mean women, they love him, and he has potential to be a superstar. It’s going to take hard work and I have his back 100%. So how is Victory different from We Global? They both have very dominating names.

DJ Khaled: It just gotten bigger. All my albums have been amazing, and incredible. Okay, then how is it bigger?

DJ Khaled: The concepts get bigger, the record gets bigger, and I make timeless music. You just said, “I make timeless music.” Tell me what’s your involvement in the music making process?

DJ Khaled: DJ Khaled’s involvement is everything in the record. DJ Khaled comes up with the concept. DJ Khaled gets with the producer and is either me making it or somebody else making it with me orchestrating the situation. DJ Khaled is bringing the energy from the artist, to me, to the producer, then to the room. I am Berry Gordy of Hip-Hop. Did you just say you’re Berry Gordy of Hip-Hop?

DJ Khaled: You better believe it. Since you mentioned that. I see some sort of similarities between you and Diddy. He orchestrated many albums, and he too put in various catchphrases in them. But he didn’t directly get with the musical process. Do you…

DJ Khaled: I wouldn’t say that. I know Diddy very personally. He is always involved in the musical process. I don’t know where you’re getting your information from, but Diddy and Khaled are 100% involved in the music-making process. I am involved 100 million percent in the music-making process. Right, so if it’s a sampled record do you actually…

DJ Khaled: It’s called direction. It’s called energy. It’s called an idea. It’s called maybe having a melody in the head. There are too many things involved. That’s why I’m trying to tell you that I’m the hood maestro. You know what I’m trying to tell you? …Uh, yes. 

DJ Khaled: This album is a f**king classic, man. We make hits! You’re very energetic.

DJ Khaled: Well, thank you, my brother. Why do you always say, “We the best!”?

DJ Khaled: Because that’s my brand. [Laughs.] It’s like Diddy saying, “Bad Boy.” Right, but you do know that grammatically speaking its “we are the best.”

DJ Khaled: No, it’s called We The Best. And it’s not grammatically incorrect. It’s what we want it to be. Who is “we”?

DJ Khaled: “We” is the people of the streets. “We” is the people that love music. “We” is the people that love greatness. Then what about those who are against your causes?

DJ Khaled: I don’t know them guys, and I don’t entertain them guys. That’s called life, man. It’s more love than hate! We winning, baby. Right, is that why when you got entangled with Ross and 50’s conflicts you avoided the situation?

DJ Khaled: I roll with Ross, and he’s my brother. And it’s not about avoiding anything. I just don’t entertain negativity. So why would I entertain something that doesn’t need to be entertained? I make music, I’m about love, and I’m about great energy. Going back to the album, your first single “Fed Up” features Drake who was up for a Grammy this year.

DJ Khaled: I think he deserves everything he’s doing right now because he’s a winner. And I think everybody deserves a Grammy. Jay-Z won, and I was happy that he won. Did you think the results were too cliché? 

DJ Khaled: I’m just a fan of the music. Obviously just to get nominated is a win. I got to watch it at home, and I enjoyed the Michael Jackson tribute. Speaking of MJ, you mentioned that you wanted to work with him at one point. What would the end product sound like?

DJ Khaled: I mean I’ll give him some ideas on how I want the record to go, and I hope he’ll agree with it, and I think me and him would’ve made something so crazy like…Imagine Michael Jackson singing “Fed Up.” [Laughs.]

DJ Khaled: You see what I’m saying? That shit would be crazy, for real.

DJ Khaled: Exactly. I bring them to my world, and my world is the streets. When you say the “streets” do you mean the crime?

DJ Khaled: I’m talking about the mother******* streets! Going from hood to hood. I’m talking about the mother******* ghetto. I’m talking about the mother******* concrete. It’s called we out here trying to survive. That’s why if you listen to my music, you can hear this passion! On “I’m So Hood” what you think that is? That’s a mother******* classic! You know what I’m saying? We get it in, baby! Where does your energy come from?

DJ Khaled: It comes from God, man. By the way, God’s son, or Nas, on that track “Victory” sounds crazy. What went down to make that track happen?

DJ Khaled: I worked with Nas plenty of times, man. I sent him the beat, and we spoke on the phone, and I explained to him that it’s the title track. And he decided to go 40 bars of lethal lines. What about the track with Shyne?

DJ Khaled: He’s a good friend of mine too. I’ve always waved a Shyne flag, and when he got out, I called him, and I told him what I’m trying to do, and he was like, “Khaled I got you.” And Shyne actually came up with the concept for the beat. Did you think his verses were a bit rusty?

DJ Khaled: No, he put it down! (Editor's note: This interview was conducted before Khaled removed the Shyne-song from his album.) Before DJ Khaled-the Def Jam executive-tell me about DJ Khaled the DJ.

DJ Khaled: My brother, this is DJ Khaled the number one DJ in the country. DJ Khaled’s not an overnight success. DJ Khaled’s been in the game for 20 years. I used to DJ on roads, DJ in clubs, put out mixtapes, sound clashing in Jamaica, and still maintain a radio show that’s number one. But before the accolades I’m sure you were at one point a crate boy, right?

DJ Khaled: I wouldn’t call it a crate boy. I would call myself in love with hip-hop. Then who brought you into the game?

DJ Khaled: I brought myself into the game for the love of Hip-Hop. I used to be in DJ battles, and I would rip the “Peter Piper” record like a movie. Interesting. Knowing that the purist crowd still has difficulty referring to you as a real DJ.

DJ Khaled: I can’t agree with them because they don’t know my history. It’s like saying Jay-Z is not real hip-hop because he’s successful. I’m one of the realist DJs, and I’m on the turntables cutting it up like a movie! Word. It’s been a while, but how did you feel about Roc Raida’s passing? 

DJ Khaled: Roc Raida is a great person, man. I loved the way he rocked; he repped the Heavy Hitters crew, and he was one of my favorites. It’s sad he’s gone, but we’re going to keep his name alive. Now as a mixtape DJ are you threatened that blogs are breaking records faster? 

DJ Khaled: No, I’m not because the blogs are not the DJs, and they’re not in the streets. Of course, the streets.